In Historic Move, Senators Durbin and Lugar Call on DHS to Protect Immigrant Youth

For Immediate Release

Americas Voice
Contact: 

Marjorie Valbrun
(202) 463-8602 ext.305

In Historic Move, Senators Durbin and Lugar Call on DHS to Protect Immigrant Youth

i-partisan Effort to Halt Deportation of DREAM Students a Dramatic New Development in the Immigration Reform Debate

WASHINGTON - Today, Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) and Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) released a letter
to the Obama Administration asking for a halt in deportations of
immigrant youth who would be eligible for the DREAM Act, which would
permit certain undocumented students to become permanent legal
residents if they came here as children, are long-term U.S. residents,
and attend college or enlist in the military for at least two years. 

At
a time of unprecedented partisanship, Sens. Lugar and Durbin deserve
tremendous credit for acting courageously and in a bipartisan fashion.
 According to Frank Sharry, Executive Director of America’s Voice, “The
letter is a significant new development in the ongoing immigration
reform debate.  This is the first time a bipartisan duo of leading
lawmakers has made such a request, and it is a harbinger of things to
come.  Unless Congress moves quickly to enact immigration reforms,
pressure will build on DHS to roll back the arbitrary and cruel
excesses of the mass deportation strategies started under the Bush
Administration and for the most part continued – and even expanded –
under the Obama Administration.

As a Senator and as a candidate, President Obama showed his understanding of these excesses and the need for change, saying
in 2008, "When communities are terrorized by ICE immigration raids,
when nursing mothers are torn from their babies, when children come
home from school to find their parents missing, when people are
detained without access to legal counsel, when all that is happening,
the system just isn't working, and we need to change it." 

But
despite such calls for change and repeated assurances by the new
Administration that it is targeting “the worst of the worst,” the Obama
Administration is on track to exceed the deportation levels of the Bush
Administration. The Obama Administration has also been mired in
controversies surrounding reported “deportation quotas”, the detention
of Haitians rescued from the earthquake and sent to the U.S, the
extension of controversial agreements with local enforcement
authorities that spawn terror among Latinos in local communities, and
despicable treatment of detainees in its sprawling, privatized and
often inhumane detention system.  In fact, enforcement actions by DHS
against DREAM Act kids has led to multiple protests and campaigns
around the country in defense of those facing deportation.  It has
spurred some to “come out” as “Undocumented and Unafraid” and a group of four brave Dream kids to walk from Miami to Washington DC on the Trail of Dreams.

“This
letter represents a huge challenge for the Obama Administration,”
Sharry said. “On the one hand, will DHS continue to ramp up enforcement
in which ordinary undocumented immigrants, mixed status immigrant
families, and DREAM Act kids who just want to go to college, are
arrested, detained and deported?  Or will the Administration provide
discretionary relief to hard working and otherwise law-abiding
immigrants subjected to bad immigration laws, including young
immigrants who came to this country at a young age, have established
themselves as Americans in all but paperwork, and now face the prospect
of being ripped away from the only country they know and love?” 

"This
letter proves the success of our Education not Deportation (END)
Campaign,” said Mohammad Abdollahi co-founder of DREAMACTivist.org.
 “The END Campaign has been spearheaded by the very DREAM students
affected by this issue and has successfully deferred the deportations
of many DREAM-eligible students.  We applaud the efforts of Senators
Durbin and Lugar in recognizing the urgency for passage of the DREAM
Act.  Our nation cannot afford to have another decade of dreams
deferred."  

The
DREAM Act is a vital piece of immigration reform.  Earlier this month,
Senator Durbin made the commitment to lead on this issue and send the
letter at a rally of over 1,200 immigrants and their supporters hosted
by the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR).
 Upon release of today’s letter, ICIRR Board Leader Raul Raymundo said,
“We are grateful that Senator Durbin understands that the
indiscriminate deportation  of immigrants, with no consideration of the
circumstances or their contributions, makes absolutely no sense.”

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